Welcome to The MH Wish List, where Men’s Health editors highlight the coolest gear they’ve tested this year that make for the perfect gift this holiday season. If you’re looking for the latest and greatest tech, home, and fitness goods, we’ve got you covered for everyone on your list. This week, Deputy Editor Spencer Dukoff gives us the lowdown on Our Place’s cult-favorite Always Pan.
Gift This to: the guy who has everything except space in his kitchen.
What Makes This a Great Gift: It’s useful, it’s pleasing to the eye, and it shows that you’re plugged into the latest trends.
If you’ve been on Instagram in 2020, you’ve almost definitely encountered the Always Pan. This all-in-one kitchen tool from Our Place exploded in popularity this year, thanks to a savvy social media marketing campaign where it was championed by countless influencers (oh yeah, and Oprah totally digs it).
I—for the record—am not an influencer, but I do (kinda) (sorta) like to cook. I also live in an apartment with a modest kitchen with my wife Erin and we often need to get creative about cabinet space. So, when Erin and I had the chance to test the Always Pan, which purports to replace 8 pieces of cookware, we jumped at the opportunity.
Spoiler alert: It’s a bit of a game-changer.
My first impression of the Always Pan was its eye-catching aesthetic. It comes in a variety of millennial monochromatic colors, but we opted for Sage green, which pops against our jet-black stovetop. While most of our other pots and pans are stowed in a kitchen cabinet, the Always Pan has lived on our stove out in the open, simply because it looks good there.
Unboxing the pan from its sustainable packaging (there’s zero plastic whatsoever, kudos to Our Place), we began to wrap our heads around its different uses: frying pan, nonstick pan, sauté pan, steamer, skillet, saucier, saucepan, spatula, and spoon rest.
Over the past three months, we’ve made use of all those functions. I’ve definitely skewed toward the more just-happy-to-be-here style of cooking, scrambling eggs, sautéing chicken, and trying my hand at mushroom risotto, all with this single piece of cookware. I’m easily flustered in the kitchen and I’m quick to blame my mistakes on everything (the stove, the pan, the weather) but my lack of skills. That the Always Pan didn’t make me grit my teeth and bury my head in overcooked shame is a check in the win column in and of itself.
For Erin’s part, she’s been a little more ambitious, trying out slightly more challenging recipes that have involved steaming vegetables, pan-searing meats, and cooking fish—meals where there’s less margin for error. As the consumer of said meals, let me just say: Always Pan, keep doin’ your thang.
The pan is deeper than your average frying pan, which means you can make sauces in it without worrying about overflow. We’d also give it high marks for its nonstick functionality, which has held up rather remarkably and has made cleaning a sitch. Little details, like the spoon rest, make it feel like a complete product that actually compels you to cook more.
If you have the space for a cast-iron skillet and a Dutch oven—two pieces we’ve also learned to love in quarantine—those can pull off culinary feats that the Always Pan can’t. Also, it’s just one pan, so if you’re preparing a meal where you’re making several things simultaneously, you’re going to need to call in some backup. Still, there’s something remarkable about having a go-to pan that can do so many different things and do them well, extending its value well-beyond its price tag.
There’s a certain trendiness with the Always Pan, but it doesn’t feel like a novelty, making it an excellent gift idea for a novice cook looking to “spark joy” by clearing out some cabinet space and organizing their smaller kitchen.
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